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UCF’s New Master’s Degree Creates Pathway to Careers in Robotics for Students

TapeMeasure, UCF’s robotic dog used by students for research, became an instant sensation during the 2023 Space Game at FBC Mortgage Stadium, captivating the crowd as soon as it stepped onto the field. Photos and videos of the four-legged machine flooded social media, and several media outlets featured it in their newscasts.

Now students with a passion for robotics can take their interest and their education to a new level. The College of Engineering and Computer Science plans to launch the master’s in robotics and autonomous systems within the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Fall 2024.

Students who enroll in the program will learn to analyze, design and develop the robotics and autonomous systems that are used in society. This includes self-driving cars, drones, medical robots — and even mechanical dogs. The curriculum will cover multiple disciplines with a focus on electrical and electronic hardware, machine learning, autonomous control and computer vision.

“Robotics is a very interdisciplinary field and UCF’s program ensures that students are exposed to courses from multiple engineering specialties,” says Professor Gita Sukthankar, coordinator of the program. “The master of science in robotics and autonomous systems is housed within the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, but it also includes required courses from mechanical engineering and computer science.”

While other graduate level programs in Florida offer specializations related to robotics, none are as comprehensive or immersive as this master’s degree, Sukthankar says. Students who enroll can take courses in computer vision, machine learning, autonomous vehicles, medical robotics and intelligent systems. The skills they develop can be applied to an independent study project, a master’s thesis or robotics research in a related laboratory or center. With the skills and experience gained from the program, students can establish careers as robotics engineers across a variety of industries.

“Depending on the student’s selection of technical electives, they are likely to be recruited for certain specialized computer, electrical and mechanical engineering roles,” Sukthankar says. “For instance, a student who opted to take machine learning electives would be eligible to work as a machine learning engineer.”

The program is designed to not only benefit students, but the local workforce as well.

“We hope the program helps local companies with their workforce needs,” Sukthankar says. “Central Florida is home to several companies that have large robotics investments, including Lockheed Martin, L3Harris and Siemens. We also hope that some of our graduates choose to start companies of their own since this area is ripe for venture capital investment.”

Prospective applicants should have a 3.0 GPA or above and an undergraduate degree in a STEM-related discipline. Some knowledge of programming languages, engineering statistics, linear algebra and multivariate calculus is preferred.

To learn more or to apply, visit the master’s in robotics and autonomous systems webpage.